Pilgrims from England and the 'English Way' (Camino Inglés) from la Coruña in to Santiago de Compostela in Galicia, north west Spain. (A briefing note by Marion Marples)
La Coruña is the most historically attested starting point in Spain, especially for pilgrims from England. Many medieval pilgrims arrived by ship from the ports of the south coast and would have walked or ridden to Santiago. They usually returned a week or so later, making a round trip of 2 weeks. La Coruña is approx 72km from Santiago.
For the modern pilgrim this distance in itself does not qualify the pilgrim for a 'Compostela' from the Pilgrim Office at Santiago cathedral (which asks the pilgrim to walk the last 100km). However, the Dean of Santiago has now confirmed that pilgrims walking routes in England (St Michael's Way, Saints Way, St James's Way, Pilgrims Way) may include these km in the total distance walked and start the Camino Inglés at la Coruña.
They need to have a 'credencial' (Pilgrim Passport, Pilgrim Record) stamped and dated from a starting point and en route in England.
Credencials/Pilgrim Records/Pilgrim Passports are available from the Confraternity of Saint James' online shop. (£5) http://www.csj.org.uk/product-tag/pilgrim-record/
Stamps are held at significant stages along the Way eg the start, refreshment places, churches, St Michael's Mount. The date should be noted and ideally the stamp should be signed. Self inking stamps may be left for pilgrims to stamp their own documents.
Currently many pilgrims start the route at Ferrol on the opposite side of the estuary which gives 100km + km. Some walk to the confluence of the routes at Bruma, then take the bus to La Coruña and walk that section back to Bruma.
The Confraternity of Saint James was founded in 1983 to promote the pilgrim routes to Santiago de Compostela.
The CSJ has been actively promoting the Camino Inglés by
•in 1993 organising the first walking pilgrimage by an English group since the Reformation
•publishing the first modern Guide in English
•making available the first online Guide in English
•supporting the Pilgrim Sea Voyage in 1999, when 2 ships sailed with pilgrims from Fowey and pilgrims walked the Camino Inglés
It has supported the development of the St Michael's Way, alongside the local Bredereth Sen Jago by
•being present at the opening of the St Michael's Way by the Spanish Ambassador in 2004
•attending the Knill ceremonies on 25 July
•supporting the creation of the Friends of St Michael's Way in 2015
It is supporting the development of pilgrim routes in England by
•promoting a new route in England, the St James Way, Reading-Southampton
•building a database of churches dedicated to St James in England, Wales and Scotland and associated monuments, chapels, markets, fairs etc
•encouraging the Cathedral authorities in Santiago to accept that the distance walked in England may be added to the distance in Spain.
Former Secretary CSJ
St Michael's Way and the Spanish Caminos (Excerpt for the On StMW exhibition catalogue)
Interest in walking the Camino de Santiago has been growing since the early 1980s. The main Camino Francés in Spain and feeder routes in France inspired many to investigate additional routes throughout Europe. The development of the Camino Inglés from Coruna to the north of Santiago happened in the early 1990s. This well attested route is named 'Inglés ' because of the evidence for pilgrims arriving at La Coruña by ship from England including ports in Cornwall, Ireland and Wales. In the 1990s local historians in Cornwall established the St Michael's Way in conjunction with the Council of Europe. The official opening took place in May 1994 with the Spanish Ambassador leading pilgrims along the route.
Traditionally pilgrims need to walk at least the last 100km to Santiago. The distance from La Coruña is insufficient to qualify for the 'Compostela' certificate of pilgrimage.
However, we can announce that the Pilgrim Office at Santiago Cathedral has now agreed that pilgrims arriving who have walked the St Michael's Way as well as the Camino Inglés from La Coruña may be awarded the Compostela, on production of a suitably stamped Credencial.
Former Sectretary CSJ
My inititial research into StMW in 2013 uncovered almost no tangible connections with the Camino de Santiago other than the signage on the route. Even the Confraternity of St James, based on London, who support pilgrims aiming to walk the Camino to Santago did not mention the StMW on their website.
However after many conversations and months, it seems that the timing was right- Marion Marples of the CSJ wrote to the Dean of the Cathedral in Santiago and I am pleased to report that as from this year (2016) walkers who complete the St MW and then walk the English Way (from La Caruna to Santiago) will be eligble for a Compostela.
Walkers must provide a suitably stamped passport in Santiago. As there is no stamping system installed (yet!) on StMW walkers can puchase a passport from the CSJ and have it stamped in post office/hotel/bar along STMW or ask a local person to sign to and date the passport to evidence that they were there.